Emotional Availability


Scientific Validation (Research)

Attachment theory began in the 1950s with the work of John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, who observed young children’s reactions to separation from their parents and their reactions to loss. He also studied children in unusual circumstances, such as those raised in institutions. On the basis of his observations of infants and young children as well as his extensive knowledge of the field of ethology, he concluded that the young of all species come into this world biologically prepared to love and to attach to a loving caregiver. He believed, and it has been documented, that all children are attached to the individuals who take care of them. So unless a child is raised in an institution or there are many changes in the caregiving environment (such as foster care), children attach and love their parents. It is a biological imperative because it guarantees the survival of a species. All children are better off being connected with a wiser adult than they are taking care of themselves.

Dr. Biringen’s first book, Raising a Secure Child: Creating an Emotional Connection Between You and Your Child, (published in 2004 by Penguin), distilled over 40 years of research on attachment and two decades of research on emotional availability into a single volume. It was the first book that described this scientifically validated work for parents and other caregivers, and allowed parents not only a clear and measurable way to understand if a child is emotionally secure and his/her emotional needs are being met, but also a way to assess themselves “on the job.” Her second book is The Universal Language of Love: Assessing Relationships Through the Science of Emotional Availability, which describes how the Emotional Availability (EA) Scales might be used in personal relationships that involve parents and children, equal partner relationships, and leader-constituent relationships. Both books are available on amazon.com.  Both are general- audience books. She will soon be publishing a scholarly book on emotional availability.

Special issues in journals have been dedicated to disseminating national and international contributions (including in Attachment and Human Development, 2000, Infant Mental Health Journal, 2005, and Parenting: Science and Practice, 2009).  The most recent comprehensive review please see Biringen et al. (2014) in Development Review.

Note that where the researcher has used the term “emotional availability” but not the EA Scales, we do not include such works in our reviews.  Usage of the terms “emotional availability” “EA” or emotional availability (EA) refer now to linkage with a specific assessment system, rather than a general term. These terms have been registered as trademarks and should no longer be used except when utilizing the system, theory, and research tradition based on this work. Through this effort and authorized training, the EA field will remain cohesive and the system utilized with fidelity and excellence.